STAFF MEMBERS


Nicole Vallestero Keenan-Lai
Executive Director

nicole@pugetsoundsage.org
(206) 568-5000 ext. 13

Nicole is the Executive Director at Puget Sound Sage. She has more than a decade of experience in research, advocacy, civic engagement, racial justice organizing, social services, and community and business outreach.

Previously, Nicole was the executive director of the Fair Work Center, a hub for workers to better understand and exercise their legal rights, improve their working conditions and connect with community resources. Before launching the Fair Work Center, Nicole served as the Policy Director at Puget Sound Sage, where she led policy and analysis work on labor standards and environmental justice. Nicole began her career through community engagement and youth engagement roles at the Washington Environmental Council, El Centro de la Raza and the Washington Bus. 

Nicole has co-authored several publications on a variety of topics including financial capacity, income taxes, childcare, environmental justice and the economic impact of living wages. Her work has been featured in local, national and international media including the New York Times, BBC, The Guardian and Huffington Post. Nicole holds a Bachelors degree in Public Policy from The College of William and Mary, and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Washington. In 2014, Nicole received a 50th Anniversary Civil Rights Leadership Award the Seattle Office of Civil Rights and Women's Commission and in 2015 she was named as one of the 15 people Who Should Really Run Seattle by the Seattle Metropolitan Magazine.

Debolina Banerjee
Climate Justice Policy Analyst

debolina@pugetsoundsage.org
(206) 568-5000 ext. 18

Debolina is the Climate Justice Policy Analyst at Puget Sound Sage. Her responsibilities include research-based analysis of climate policies, campaign support on climate justice issues, and building power within Sage’s local and statewide climate coalitions.

She has research experience in transit-oriented development, the environmental impacts of unorganized industries and project management for real estate development. In addition, Debolina has extensive experience working with grassroots activists and marginalized communities in India organizing for social justice around food, sustainable agriculture, clean environment, community development and women’s empowerment.

Before joining Puget Sound Sage, Debolina was with InterIm CDA researching the impact of the receding affordable housing stock and increasing risk of displacement faced by the immigrant and refugee communities of Seattle’s International District. She holds a Master's degree in Applied Environmental Studies in Planning from the University of Waterloo and a Master’s Degree in City Planning from the Indian Institute of Technology.

Howard Greenwich
Senior Policy Advisor

howard@pugetsoundsage.org
(206) 568-5000 ext. 12

Howard is the Senior Policy Advisor at Puget Sound Sage. Approaching his tenth year at the organization, he is responsible for providing analysis, strategy and support to Sage’s program staff on policy campaigns. While at Sage, he has authored of over a dozen reports and briefs on economic inequality, land use, affordable housing, and labor policy.

Before joining Sage in 2007, he served as the Research Director at the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE) for eight years. While at EBASE, he helped pass many local policies that raised employment standards, including the groundbreaking Berkeley and Emeryville living wage ordinances. From 1992 to 1997, he provided research and policy analysis for the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group in Chicago, a community-based organization that secured hundreds of millions in public investment in locally-determined, neighborhood infrastructure.

Howard holds a Masters in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College, and a Certificate in Commercial Real Estate from the University of Washington.

Myani Guetta-Gilbert
Community Leadership Director

myani@pugetsoundsage.org
(206) 568-5000 x16

Myani Guetta (she/her/hers) is the Community Leadership Director at Puget Sound Sage. She leads the Community Leadership Institute and supports the SouthCORE coalition, which guides Sage's equitable development program and centers on a vision of community controlled development in South Seattle and South King County.

Before joining Puget Sound Sage, Myani worked in school-based communities in South Seattle, organizing family outreach and serving children through City Year. In New York City, Myani worked in residential and day treatment facilities for adults and youth with mental illness and drug addiction. She has also worked in collaboration with community organizers in Kenya to develop workshops for HIV discordant families pursuing small business. Myani spent time learning from and organizing alongside trafficking survivors and advocates in the Philippines, contributing to anti-trafficking research for the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. She worked locally to build the bridge between domestic violence and other forms of gender based violence, including trafficking, by building a critical analysis through cross-sector dialogues and contributing research with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Myani is passionate about organizing with anti-racist feminist collectives and teaching young people about the strength of women. Myani's racial justice analysis draws from her own Middle Eastern background, which grounds her in an anti-violence framework rooted in generational ties to conflict zones and war. Myani holds a Master of Social Work (MSW) specializing in Community Centered Integrative Practice from the University of Washington.

Yolanda Matthews
Coalition Organizer, IEJC

yolanda@pugetsoundsage.org
(206) 568-5000 ext. 13

Yolanda is the Coalition Organizer of the Interfaith Economic Justice Coalition with Puget Sound Sage. She is responsible for coordinating interfaith support of worker organizing through Sage’s Interfaith Economic Justice Coalition (IEJC).

A native Bostonian who moved to Seattle six years ago, Yolanda is a Rainier Valley Corps fellow (2017-2019). She brings four years of experience with Got Green through their Young Leaders Program, and more recently as a member of the Food Access Team and their Board of Directors.

Ngam Nguyen
Development Director

ngam@pugetsoundsage.org
(206) 568-5000 ext. 25

Ngam is the Development Director at Puget Sound Sage. Ngam oversees the Development Department and provides overall strategic communications counsel to the organization.

Prior to joining Sage, Ngam worked in development for the Washington Bus, a nonprofit organization that engages young people in politics. She also previously served as Executive Account Assistant at GMMB, a strategic communications agency, where she helped execute large-scale initiatives that are ambitious in scope, particularly in the areas of maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition and malaria in Vietnam and Africa.

Ngam holds a Bachelor’s degree in Digital Journalism from Seattle University and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Washington.

Giulia Pasciuto
Policy & Research Analyst

giulia@pugetsoundsage.org
(206) 568-5000 ext. 17

Giulia Pasciuto is a Policy & Research Analyst at Puget Sound Sage. She provides strategic research and crafts policy solutions for Sage’s equitable transit-oriented development, affordable housing, and land-use campaigns.

Before joining Sage, Giulia was a housing planner with the Puget Sound Regional Council and policy associate with T.R.U.S.T. South LA, a community driven land trust working to build community control over land to ensure affordable, healthy housing opportunities and related community-serving uses.

Giulia has a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA. She loves building community through food and around Seattle.

Jessica Ramirez
Lead Organizer

jessica@pugetsoundsage.org

Jessica is the Lead Organizer at Puget Sound Sage. She convenes the Sage SouthCORE coalition with community partners, strategically builds campaigns that root communities in place, and negotiates community desires and needs with institutional leaders to move our region towards equitable development.

Before Sage, Jessica worked with Front and Centered, a statewide environmental justice coalition as a Program Coordinator, creating and shaping the space for communities of color to have a stakeholder voice in Washington State climate work. And previously, she served as the National Boycott Coordinator for the farmworker union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia, where she brought together a coalition of community, faith, and labor groups in support of a farmworker led boycott campaign towards a historic union contract.

Jessica has a bachelor’s degree in American Ethnic Studies and minored in Labor Studies and Law Societies and Justice. As a labor of love, Jessica is co-facilitating the creation of a movement school with the Rise Up Skill Up Collective. She likes to loop around Seward Park in the early mornings, knit, karaoke, and plan a good party.

Kimberly Powe
Interim Executive Director

kim@pugetsoundsage.org
(206) 568-5000 ext. 11

Kim is the Interim Executive Director at Puget Sound Sage. Kim has a true love of people and is a passionate champion for justice. She knows that success is not a zero sum game and that true sustainability is not achieved when it is at the expense of others. She has a passion for working where sustainability and economic development intersect, which is often where people of color and low-wage communities converge.

Kim brings 18 years of experience in public service and grassroots developments spanning youth and adult economic development, racial equity, sustainability and climate justice, food justice, health equity, affordable housing, restorative justice and international development. Most recently, Kim served as the Director Social Equity and Inclusion for a local environmental organization and as the Director of Sustainability for Multnomah County.

Kim holds a Master’s in Business Administration in Sustainable Business from the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (now Presidio Graduate School) in Seattle, a Master’s of Urban Studies, Community Development, from Portland State University, and two bachelor’s degrees from Georgetown University. Kim has had the privilege to be Larry and Lynn Powe's daughter, live on four continents, marry a wonderful partner and have a daily teacher in her daughter.

Kristen Wendt
Development & Finance Manager

kristen@pugetsoundsage.org
(206) 568-5000 ext. 14

Kristen is the Development & Finance Manager at Puget Sound Sage. She is responsible for building Sage’s individual donor base, leading and support on all fundraising events, creating donor communications, as well as providing research and database support. In addition, she leads Sage’s financial management systems and processes.

Originally from the East Coast, Kristen first became engaged with Puget Sage Sage as a Communication & Outreach Coordinator during a yearlong fellowship with Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest. Prior to working at Sage, Kristen worked as the Communications Coordinator for Wentronix, as well as a featured writer and program & research intern with the SISGI Group, a consulting and non-profit organization.

Kristen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from Villanova University, with minors in Sociology and Psychology.

Joyce Maria Nimocks
Equitable Development & Climate Justice Fellow

joyce@pugetsoundsage.org

Joyce is the Equitable Development & Climate Justice Fellow at Puget Sound Sage. She provides policy research and writing for various development and climate justice projects.

Joyce Maria graduated from Pomona College with a B.A. in Environmental Analysis, and is currently completing her last year of graduate school at the University of Washington School of Work. Joyce Maria moved here from her hometown of Chicago to pursue her Master's in Social Work and has always been passionate about racial equity and community organizing. She is an arts-activist and dedicated to envisioning Black and Brown liberation through creative processes in her community.

Linda Gasparovic
Justice Volunteer

linda@pugetsoundsage.org
(206) 568-5000 ext. 24

Linda is the Development & Communications Justice Fellow at Puget Sound Sage. She connected with Sage's work through the Justice Leadership Jubilee program, a ten-month fellowship for adults which integrates faith and justice work.

Prior to joining Sage, Linda worked 20+ years as an art and creative director in direct marketing before returning to school to complete a Masters of Divinity. Growing up in a working class Croatian community with a disabled sister, Linda brings a passion for all who are affected by economic injustice, and hopes to use her experience as a student of the Ecumenical Institute in Geneva to help increase understanding between diverse communities, including communities of faith. For more than 15 years, Linda has actively engaged with religious communities to participate in local events such as Seattle Pride, Street Praise (an ecumenical evangelical music festival) and Junteenth celebrations.

Linda holds a Bachelor's degree in Fine Art from Southern University in Edwardsville, a Complimentary Certificate in Ecumenical Studies from the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, and a Masters of Divinity from Seattle University. As an artist and faith leader, Linda sees the value of touching hearts through the arts, and is looking forward to exploring ways to supplement organizing with less verbal means that can serve to connect us.